Attack on the clones

There was some coverage in the Irish media last week of the cloning of former top showjumper Cruising http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/other-sports/mary-mccann-confirms-she-has-two-cruising-clones-312555.html .

The owners are not acting outside the rules of the sport made by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) or of the Irish sports horse stud book but I don’t think either of those bodies can fully know the impact that cloning will have on that sport. When it comes to horse racing we will hopefully never allow cloning or it will utterly destroy the sport.

What’s wrong with cloning?

1. Cloning is not about looking to breed an improved racehorse, it is about recreating an existing top class horse. It is about sameness and predictability and the elimination of risk. It is about replacing the old maxim of ‘breeding the best to the best and hope for the best’ with a new maxim of ‘clone the best’. However it is the uncertainty of breeding that underpins the industry, if cloning was to become commonplace it would kill the industry it seeks to improve. Why get involved in the genetic lottery of current breeding? Who would use current stallions, the best of whom struggle to get 10% stakes winners when you can produce a horse guaranteed to be of similar genetic ability to a past champion? With uncertainty there also exists hope and it is  this hope that totally underpins the entire breeding industry and ensures that most foals will eventually find a buyer. Who would gamble on a modestly bred foal when they could buy a clone of Frankel? The breeding industry as we know it would collapse.

2. Horse racing is dependent on gambling for its survival. We don’t know the relative merits of horses until they are tried against each other under different conditions. With clones much of that uncertainty is removed as we already have a much better idea of horses maximum abilities, optimum trips and going preferences. There would initially be great interest in running a decade of cloned Derby winners against each other but ultimately we would have a much less diverse sport with the same clones running against each other after the question of the ultimate horse has been decided and the clones of same being the only logical choice for breeders. Once horse racing becomes too predictable its attractiveness to the public will fade.

Scientific breakthroughs are chipping away at the fundamentals of the sport. Genetic testing such as those offered by equinome.com are still in their infancy but in time will certainly improve to a predictive accuracy that outstrips any of us self-appointed pedigree or bloodstock ‘experts’. I am certain that artificial insemination (AI) will be allowed for thoroughbreds within the next two decades given its advantages in disease control. By itself AI is not a threat to the fundamentals of the sport once some measures such as the destruction of straws within an agreed period following the death of the stallion are implemented. Cloning is a completely different prospect and to my mind it was a mistake to allow it in showjumping and it would be a catastrophe for horse racing.

 

 

Henry Cecil- a belated tribute

With the passing of Henry Cecil in June it is worth considering his place in the pantheon of the great trainers. It is also worth looking back on the subsequent impact of his runners in the breeding sheds.  Surprisingly, for such a successful trainer over such a long career, Henry trained very few important stallions.

Ranking as a trainer

As a ten time champion trainer, its obvious that Henry Cecil must take very high rank amongst the list of great trainers.  However for me, there are a few factors that temper my enthusiasm for ranking him anywhere near Vincent O’Brien, who is the benchmark for trainers.

1. Firstly Henry had it easy. He came from a privileged background being a stepson of champion trainer and Royal trainer Cecil Boyd Rochfort and his early marriage to Julie Murless (daughter of another champion trainer and Royal trainer) meant he was quickly seated at racing’s top table.  His starting position would have taken others a decade or more to achieve.

2. Apart from Wolver Hollow’s Eclipse in his first season his early years were underwhelming. A lot of tributes talk about Henry’s instinctive way with horses, however to me if there is nothing significant happening for a number of years it looks less like genius and more of a gradual tweaking of the same old methods used by others. Henry may have had a reputation for working his horses hard at Newmarket but he wasn’t much of an innovator in his methods. Gradual improvements in staff, methods and stock are a road map to training success but they are rooted in the ordinary rather than in genius.

3. Henry largely ignored the rest of the world. Henry may have felt that British racing was the best in the world but in his heyday he spurned many opportunities for his runners overseas. His tally of two US wins (Yashmak  in 1997 and Midday in 2009) is very underwhelming given the relatively easy pickings available in the US for turf horses. His tally of 6 Irish classics is also less than one would expect.  In my view, his Anglo-centric approach didn’t do justice to his horses or his owners by ignoring the opportunities that were available throughout the world.

4. He didn’t succeed with sprinters. I don’t know the reason for this but it is noticeable that he never trained a really top class sprinter and almost all of the big sprints are absent from his cv.

Great Stallions trained by Henry

none

Very Good Stallions trained

1. Kris (1976 Sharpen Up- Doubly Sure by Reliance).

Kris was a superb miler who should have won the Guineas and won 14 of his 16 races. His first crop yielded the outstanding Cecil trained triple crown winner Oh So Sharp (1982 Kris ex Oh So Fair by Graustark). His second crop yielded Irish 2000 Guineas winner Flash of Steel (1983 Kris ex Spark of Fire by Run the Gauntlet). His final career stats show 75 black type winners from 846 foals, a very creditable 9% and include other Group 1 winners such as Shavian, Rafha and Balisada. However Kris is regarded as a fillies sire and no important sire sons have emerged to continue his male line.

2. Diesis (1980 Sharpen Up- Doubly Sure by Reliance)

A brother to Kris, Diesis was a brilliant two year old who achieved a rare Middle Park, Dewhurst double.  Like his brother he made an immediate impression with an outstanding filly in his first crop-namely Diminuendo (1985 Diesis ex Cacti by Tom Rolfe).  Other Oaks winners followed in Ramruma (1996 Diesis ex Princess of Man by Green God) and Love Divine (1997 Diesis ex La Sky by Law Society). However unlike his brother there was not the same sex bias amongst his offspring who ranged from sprinters such as Keen Hunter (1987 Diesis ex Love’s Reward by Nonoalco) to milers such as Docksider (1995 Diesis ex Pump by Forli) and superb 10 furlong performers in Halling (1991 Diesis ex Dance Machine by Green Dancer) and Elmaamul (1987 Diesis ex Modena by Roberto). His final stud statistics showed 82 black type winners from 1069 foals (8%) and his sire line is just barely hanging on through Muhtathir (a son of Elmaamul and sire of Doctor Dino) and Halling who  has a few sons at stud.

Really Disappointing Stallions Trained by Henry

1. Reference Point (1984 Mill Reef ex Home on the Range by Habitat)

An above average Derby winner who won a Futurity at two and seemed to have the pedigree to succeed at stud.  He was very disappointing and his early death was not lamented by many breeders.

2. Hello Gorgeous (1977 Mr Prospector ex Bonny Jet by Jet Jewel)

As a winner of a Dante and Futurity (aka Racing Post Trophy) and a son of the new American sensation Mr Prospector, Hello Gorgeous proved popular at Coolmore and big money was paid for many of his early offspring. He was a disaster and led to a distrust of sons of Mr Prospector in Europe that took a long time to fade.  His final stats show 10 black type winners from 510 foals (2%).

2. Old Vic (1986 Sadler’s Wells ex Cockade by Derring Do).

From the first crop of Sadler’s Wells, Old Vic was a brilliant winner of the Irish and French Derby’s. Retired to Dalham Hall he was very disappointing as a flat sire before proving to be an exceptional jumps stallion.

Mixed bag

Of Henry’s other Derby winners, Oath (1996 Fairy King ex Sheer Audacity by Troy) and Commander in Chief(1990 Dancing Brave ex Slightly Dangerous by Roberto) found themselves in Japan and failed to make much impact.  Slip Anchor (1982 Shirley Heights ex Sayonara by Birkhahn) did reasonably well, but as a stamina source was never fashionable enough to attract sufficient high quality mares.

National Hunt sires

Henry was associated with many great stayers such as Le Moss (1975 Le Levanstall ex Feemoss by Ballymoss),  Ardross (1976 Run the Gauntlet ex Le Melody by Levmoss) and Buckskin (1973 Yelapa ex Bete A Bon Dieu by Herbager) . He trained a lot of other horses who also made names as national hunt stallions such as Gunner B (1973 Royal Gunner ex Sweet Councillor by Privy Councillor), Moscow Society (Nijinsky ex Afifa by Dewan). In addition to the previously mentioned leading jumps sire Old Vic, he also trained the King George winner King’s Theatre (1991 Sadler’s Wells ex Regal Beauty by Princely Native) who became champion NH sire.

Conclusions

Henry’s standing as a great trainer is not in doubt and only Michael Stoute has stronger claims to be regarded as the outstanding British trainer of the modern era. A trainers job is to train horses for the racecourse and he has no influence on whether they succeed as stallions. It is of no relevance to Henry’s standing as a trainer that he was not associated with any horses who proved to be great stallions. It is just one of those statistical curiosities. His  success as a trainer of stayers inevitably meant that he was associated with horses who ended up earning their oats as national hunt stallions. Henry’s greatest project, Frankel is now embarking on his stud career and he has every prospect of success, so there could yet be a great stallion associated with the Cecil name.

 

 

2020 Vision

It’s a new year and a new decade,
so I dusted off the crystal ball and thought about what the next decade holds for the thoroughbred world. In a European context the changes from 2000 to 2010 were incremental rather than revolutionary. It’s a largely familiar landscape in which Coolmore and Darley still dominate.  Sadler’s Wells and Danehill may be gone, but their sons are now dominant. In an American context the one truly radical change is the adoption of synthetics. However by 2020 I foresee dramatic changes worldwide.

1. AI is coming.

Artificial Insemination is inevitable and I for one would welcome this development. Economics (reduced travel costs), safety considerations (reduced injuries to stallions and mares) and critically AI’s role in disease prevention will ensure that it eventually happens. The ‘traditionalists’ chief concerns have been:

  1. the fear of huge crop sizes
  2. a reduction in stallion diversity
  3. the practical issue that foals conceived by AI are not eligible for inclusion in the stud book

If we consider these arguments they don’t stand up to close examination. Huge crop sizes are already a reality. The marketplace will find a level at which demand (finite) will equal the new level of supply (almost infinite).  After an adjustment period, I do not envisage the top stallions greatly exceeding some of the current crop sizes. Commercial breeders have always factored in scarcity value to their deliberations and they will quickly adjust to the new environment. One interesting dilemma for stallion masters is whether they will be able to continue to charge different amounts for shuttle sires in different hemispheres.

Stallion diversity it is argued will be reduced as everyone tries to use a smaller number of elite stallions. I disagree, as firstly crop sizes may not alter as much as expected (see above) but more importantly breeders can now access any stallion regardless of location.  For breeders in small regional markets this offers huge opportunities. As a mating analyst it would mean that geography was no longer a consideration and it would allow experimentation on a grand scale.

Inclusion in the stud book will be driven by other factors. In the event of a major breeding country eg the US being forced to adopt AI as a disease prevention measure, the rules will be changed.  Australia contemplated AI when they had an outbreak of Equine Flu in 2007 amongst their shuttle stallions and other court cases have challenged the ban on the grounds of restraint of trade. Whatever the catalyst, once change comes, I believe the other major countries would eventually accept the new realities. If I was to make a practical suggestion I would recommend that foals would not be registered where the stallion has been deceased for 12 months or more. This would ensure that new stallions get a chance and that for example we would not still be seeing offspring of Sadler’s Wells in 25 years time.

 2. The scientists are coming.

Genetic research is about to usher in a brave new world and one with implications for the bloodstock industry that are far more profound than the impact of AI. Take the following example(www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/innovation/2010/0108/1224261770182) and consider the implications of this work. If scientists can identify and then test for the genetic markers that determine performance, the consequences for the industry are dramatic and traumatic. Who will buy a horse who is lacking these critical indicators of success? Currently the industry is supported by the triumph of hope over probability. Genetic tests will eliminate this hope and will make the majority of foals/yearlings effectively worthless. Other possibilities arise. What if these tests can be performed on embryos? The logical thing for a breeder to do would be to cease the pregnancy and try again, which raises ethical issues. 

 On a more positive note the scientists will help debunk many current breeding theories. We should get a proper understanding of inheritance with due regard and understanding of female influence. Looking back in 2020 I suspect us modern pedigree ‘experts’ will be viewed in the same way that we regard 19th century doctors who relied on bloodletting and leeches for many ailments!

3. The Japanese are coming

Japanese horses have already finished 2nd (El Condor Pasa) and 3rd (Deep Impact) in the Arc. They have finished first and second in the Melbourne Cup (Delta Blues and Pop Rock) and have achieved major success in America (Casino Drive and Cesario), the UK (Agnes World) and France (Seeking the Pearl).  It is a long time since Japan was a dumping ground for failed or unfashionable European stallions and the effect of their investments in recent decades mean that their horses are competitive at the highest level. The huge prizemoney at home has probably restricted travel to date but that might be about to change. If the Japanese bloodstock industry follows the example of other Japanese industries then they will be anxious to prove themselves to the world.  It might be no more than a hunch but I predict that Japanese winners will become commonplace in major events here and in the US.

Ghanaati and the sport of Queens

The 1000 Guineas was meant to be a coronation for Rainbow View. She was the best two year old filly of her generation and the Guineas seemed to be at her mercy. Her most obvious challengers Fantasia and Proportional were both waiting for the French Guineas albeit for very different reasons. However Rainbow View never really looked like she was going to follow the script and in the end she finished a disappointing fifth, three lengths behind 20/1 shot Ghanaati. 

Ghanaati was also making her seasonal debut and indeed her first ever appearance on turf. Her two year old campaign was restricted to two appearances at Kempton -finishing third on her debut and then impressively winning her maiden by six lengths. In the Guineas she was always prominent and she could be called the winner two furlongs from home. Her victory was a surprise but with the benefit of hindsight, history and pedigree analysis it was an obvious outcome 🙂

 The family of Ghanaati has lots of links with the Newmarket Guineas. Both of Ghanaati’s parents contested a Guineas at Newmarket. Giant’s Causeway was second to King’s Best in 2000 and Sarayir finished 9th behind Sleepytime in 1997.  Coincidentally Sarayir also started at 20-1 in her Guineas which was a fair representation of what she had achieved to that point, winning both her starts at two including a listed race at Newmarket. She ran four more times after Newmarket including when last in both the Ribbesdale at Royal Ascot and the Sun Chariot at Newmarket before winning a handicap at Newcastle. Sarayir was trained by Dick Hern who enjoyed Guineas success with Sarayir’s outstanding half brother Nashwan in 1989. This was in keeping with the family tradition, for their granddam Highclere had provided him and Highclere’s owner the Queen, with success in the 1974 1000 Guineas. For good measure, Highclere was also successful in the French Oaks, just as Nashwan added a second classic in the Derby. Nashwan bettered his granddam in winning a King George whereas she was runner-up to Dahlia. Highclere was a daughter of Queens Hussar who is best remembered as the sire of Brigadier Gerard.

Ghanaati’s granddam Height of Fashion was a top class racehorse as well as a phenomenal producer. She was joint top rated two year old after winning the May Hill Stakes and the Hoover fillies mile back when they were both Group 3 events. At three she won a Princess of Wales stakes and she seemed destined to make a valuable addition to the Queens broodmare band. However she accepted a reputed £1 million pounds (did she need the money…. 🙂 ) from the representatives of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and thereby thoroughbred history was changed. 

 It’s not often that somebody pays a million for a piece of horseflesh and gets an absolute bargain but such was the case with Height of Fashion. Aside from Nashwan (by Blushing Groom), she produced Nayef (by Gulch) who won four Group ones including a Champion Stakes, a Juddmonte International,Sheema Classic and Prince of Wales Stakes. Better still he is a a very promising young stallion with the likes of Tamayuz and Lady Marian to his credit and he represents one of the few top class stallions in Europe free of Northern Dancer blood. Height of Fashion also produced Unfuwain (by Northern Dancer) who emulated his granddam by finishing second in a King George and emulated his mother in winning the Princess of Wales Stakes. He compiled a very respectable stud record before his death in 2002 siring the likes of Alhaarth and more especially a host of top fillies including classic winners Lailani, Lahan, Bolas, Petrushka and Eswarah. She also produced another Group winner in Alwasmi (by Northern Dancer) who won the John Porter stakes and finished fourth in an Irish Leger and Listed winner Mukddaam (by Danzig) who was also second in the King Edward Stakes at Royal Ascot. Another foal Bashayer a full sister to Sarayir achieved fame of a sort when finishing second in the Cheshire Oaks. Her rider that day Willie Carson dropped his hands prior to the line and rightfully earned the wrath of punters and the stewards. Another full sister Wijdan finished second in the 1994 Pretty Polly Stakes (run on Guineas day) where she was defeated by Wind In her Hair (by Alzao). Coincidentally Wind in her Hair was another granddaughter of Highclere and she did her bit for the family legacy by finishing second in the Oaks, winning a Group one in Germany and becoming dam of Japanese superstar Deep Impact (by Sunday Silence) who will be having his first runners next year. Wind in her Hair is also granddam of Jeremy (by Danehill Dancer) who won the Jersey Stakes and the Group 2 Betfred mile. He is now standing at the Irish National Stud.

Giant’s Causeway

Ghanaati’s sire Giant’s Causeway is a sire that divides opinion. What is not in dispute is that he has been an incredibly profitable sire for Coolmore. He is now standing at $125,000 having reached a high of $300,000. He has over 1100 foals of racing age and he also shuttled to Australia but made a limited impact down under. With typical hyperbole Coolmore describe his as ‘the best young sire in the world’. He certainly made the right start to his career getting Shamardal who won a Dewhurst, French Guineas, French Derby and the St James Palace Stakes, Footstepsinthesand who won the 2000  Guineas and Maids Causeway who won the Coronation Stakes from his initial crop who were conceived in Ireland. His second crop conceived in Ashford contained First Samurai who was dual Grade 1 winning two year old and had Coolmore hope that Giants Causeway was that most valuable of commodities, a sire who could get top class dirt and turf runners. Interestingly considering his own reputation for toughness Shamardal, Footstepsinthesand,Maids Causeway and First Samurai all had truncated careers due to injury.

Giant’s Causeway went through a bit of a barren patch in Europe and wasn’t represented by another Group 1 winner until Intense Focus battling win in last years Dewhurst and now Ghanaati’s Guineas victory. In the meantime he had a number of top performers in the States such as Aragorn, Heatseeker and My Typhoon. Interestingly many of his US performers need time to produce their best and Aragorn was best at 4, Heatseeker at 5 and My Typhoon at 5. Giants Causeway has also benefitted from the move to synthetic surfaces and his runners seem to like both very fast ground or synthetic surfaces. He works well with Mr Prospector line mares and aside from Ghanaati, Aragorn is out of a daughter of Mr Prospector and Shamardal ,My Typhoon, Carriage Trail and Heatseeker are all out of Mr Prospector line stallions. Giant’s Causeway is well capable of siring a top class performer at up to 10 furlongs but his percentages are such that he was massively overpriced at 300k and even at 125k another price reduction might be in order. He is still a young stallion but he needs a top dirt performer to retain his position in the elite of US stallions. My view is that he should be returned to Ireland where his most successful first crop was conceived.

Conclusion. Ghanaati’s pedigree is nicely balanced with no duplication in the first five generations. Giant’s Causeway may not be the best young sire in the world but he is a capable sire and he works well with Mr Prospector line mares. Sarayir is a representative of one of the most successful European classic families of the past two decades.  Ghanaati is merely upholding a fine family tradition.

 

GHANAATI (USA) 2006 f b

Giant’s
Causeway (USA) 1997
Storm
Cat (USA) 1983
Storm
Bird (USA) 1978
Northern
Dancer (CAN) 1961
South
Ocean (USA) 1967
Terlingua
(USA) 1976
Secretariat
(USA) 1970
Crimson
Saint (USA) 1969
Mariah’s
Storm (USA) 1991
Rahy
(USA) 1985
Blushing
Groom (FR) 1974
Glorious
Song (USA) 1976
Immense
(USA) 1979
Roberto
(USA) 1969
Imsodear
(USA) 1967
Sarayir
(USA) 1994
Mr
Prospector (USA) 1970
Raise
A Native (USA) 1961
Native
Dancer (USA) 1950
Raise
You (USA) 1946
Gold
Digger (USA) 1962
Nashua
(USA) 1952
Sequence
(USA) 1946
Height
Of Fashion (FR) 1979
Bustino
(GB) 1971
Busted
(GB) 1963
Ship
Yard (GB) 1963
Highclere
(GB) 1971
Queen’s
Hussar (GB) 1960
Highlight
(GB) 1958

The Irish Derby- A source of great sires?

Federico Tesio famously said ” The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians, or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby”. If the fabled Italian was around today he might replace Epsom with the Curragh. The relative importance of Epsom has undoubtedly declined and that of the Irish Derby has increased . Due to the vagaries of the track the best horse doesn’t alays win at Epsom.  The best horse nearly always wins at the Curragh. The timing of the Irish Derby which allows it to bring together the winners of the Epsom and French Derbies also facilitates this. So what about its record as a source of leading sires. Well let’s stroll down memory lane and look at the stud records of the last 26 Irish Derby winners….

2008 Frozen Fire (Montjeu-Flamingo Sea by Woodman). Won an incident packed Irish Derby in which is stablemate and paternal half brother Alessandro Volta caused all sorts of mayhem. This was only his second win after a maiden but he was only beaten a short head in the Dante before disappointing at Epsom. He fetched €250000 as a yearling and his pedigree is solid rather than spectacular.  Given the circumstances of his Irish Derby win, he will probably need to add another Group 1 to his CV to make himself an attractive stallion prospect. (sire rating unknown)

2007 Soldier of Fortune (Galileo-Affinanced by Erins Isle). Soldier of Fortune recently added the Coronation Cup to his record. As a son of Galileo he is sure to be popular on  his retirement to Coolmore. (sire rating unknown)

2006 Dylan Thomas (Danehill-Lagrion by Diesis). Added 5 more group 1’s including an Arc and King George to his record at three and four. He became the second son of Danehill to triumph 9 years after Desert King. Currently standing at €50000 in Coolmore (sire rating unknown)

2005 Hurricane Run (Montjeu-Hold On by Surumu).  From the outstanding first crop of Montjeu (1999) went onto add 3 more Group 1’s to his record including an Arc and King George. Currently standing for €30000 at Coolmore.(sire rating unknown)

2004 Grey Swallow (Daylami-Style of Life by The Minstrel). From the first crop of Daylami, his career never really again reached the heights of his Curragh defeat of North Light. He did add another Group 1 in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at 4. He also picked up some Grade2 in the US at 5. He was shipped to Australia for the Cox Plate but picked up an injury. He has remained in Australia and stands at Woodside Park Stud for $16500, his fee perhaps a reflection of the fall from grace of Daylami who is now based in South Africa. He was the first sire since St Jovite in 1992 not to represent the Northern Dancer sire line, but he was still close up as his dam was by The Minstrel(sire rating unknown)

2003 Alamshar (Key of Luck-Alaiyda by Sharastani). Became the only horse to ever defeat Dalakhani when out-battling him at the Curragh. Initially sold to Japan, he is now in residence at the Irish National stud for €5000. I reckon this is good value (see earlier post on bargain basement sires)(sire rating unknown)

2002 High Chapparal (Sadler’s Wells-Kasora by Darshaan). One of six offspring of Sadler’s Wells to triumph, and at the time the fourth in five years. His oldest crop are now three year olds and although he got an Italian Guineas winner in Senlis he is so far disappointing. He is currently listed at €15000 but if he doesn’t get a few big winners soon, he will be sold on or will find himself operating as a NH sire.(sire rating 3/10)

2001 Galileo (Sadler’s Wells-Urban Sea by Miswaki). The hottest stallion in Europe. Having a fantastic season with his two, three and four year olds. So far he has had New Approach winning the Derby, Lush Lashes the Coronation, Cima de Triomphe an Italian Derby, Soldier of Fortune a Coronation Cup and Cuis Gaire the Albany stakes. To this roll call can be added previous stars Teofilo, Sixties Icon, Nightime, Red Rocks and Allegretto. His fee is listed as private and he is the annointed successor to his own sire Sadler’s Wells.(sire rating 9/10)

2000 Sinndar(Grand Lodge-Sinntara by Lashkari). An oustanding racehorse who later added the Arc to his Derby and Irish Derby triumphs. Retired to his owner the Aga Khans Gilltown stud he failed to get a lot of patronage from outside breeders. He was by far the best son of his inconsistent sire Grand Lodge, out of Sinntara who won an Irish Cesearwich.  He now stands at the Aga’s french stud Bonnveval for €20000.  He is a good sire for the money and has sired two outstanding runners in Youmzain and Shawanda. Hopefully he will get the patronage he deserves from French breeders.(sire rating 6.5/10)

1999. Montjeu (Sadler’s Wells-Floripedes by Top Ville). Outstanding racehorse and now outstanding sire. I obviously have a soft spot for him given the name of this blog. His outstanding first crop had one,twos in the Epsom and Irish Derby’s with Motivator, Walk in the Park, Hurricane Run and Scorpion. Has since added another Epsom winner with Authorised and just after writing this article Frozen Fire gave him another Irish Derby. His fee at €125000 marks him as the second most expensive stallion at Coolmore after his paternal half brother Galileo. interesting his % of stakes winners was slightly better than Galileos. (sire rating 9/10)

1998 Dream Well (Sadler’s Wells-Soul Dream by Alleged). Followed up his French Derby success with victory at the Curragh. His subsequent career was somewhat disappointing. Another son of Sadler’s Wells his dam Soul Dream later produced another French Derby winner in Sulamani. He was sold to Japan where he left behind nothing of note. Similarly his time as a shuttler to Australia left behind nothing of note. He now stands at Haras de Fresney-le- Buffard in France for €2000 and is in essence a dual purpose sire. His oldest European crop are only three year olds, but nothing of significance has emerged.  (sire rating 2/10)

1997 Desert King( Danehill-Sabaah by Nureyev).  A horse who helped to establish two reputations. Firstly that of his sire Danehill who until Desert King was well short of supersire status in the Northern hemisphere. Secondly he was the first important colt trained at Ballydoyle by Aidan O’Brien for the Coolmore axis. He was a tough and versatile colt winning the National stakes at two, impressively winning the Irish Guineas at three and recovering from a disappointing run at Ascot to win the Irish Derby. Ironically the colt he defeated at the Curragh was Dr Johnson owned by former Ballydoyle maestro Vincent O’Brien and trained by Charles O’Brien who it was assumed would take over Ballydoyle.  At stud he surprised many by proving to be an influence for stamina. He sired an Ascot Gold Cup winner in Mr Dinos and one of the great racemares of the modern era down under in Makybe Diva. His stud career started in Coolmore from where he shuttled to Australia. He was then banished from the Coolmore roster to Japan and last year he was transferred to Scarvagh House who are marketing him as a dual purpose sire for £4000/€5800. He has sired six group one winners which alongside those already mentioned includes Chelsea Rose who won a Moyglare and Desert War who is a multiple Group 1 winner in Australia. (sire rating 5/10)

1996 Zagreb (Theatrical-Sophonisbe by Wollow). Zagreb was a 20-1 shot when winning Dermot Weld’s first Irish Derby by 6 lengths. It provided compensation for the narrow defeat of his sire Theatrical (also trained by Weld) in the 1985 renewal. He only ran once more when unplaced in the Arc and in total his career lasted only four races. He also ended up in Japan where he did leave behind some runners of note in Group 1 winners in Cosmo Bulk and Cosmo Sunbeam. However he obviously didn’t do enough and he now earns his oats as a National Hunt sire at Beechbrook stud covering for €1500 (sire rating 3/10)

1995 Winged Love (In the Wings-J’ai Deux Amours by Top Ville). This son of In The Wings was the first grandson of Sadler’s Wells to triumph when he shortheaded Definite Article, with hot favourite and his Chantilly conqueror Celtic Swing unplaced. He never won again after the Curragh but arguably ran even better when a close fourth behind Lammtarra in the King George. He was retired to stud in Germany and got a number of stakes winners but nothing above Group 2 level. He is now in Scarvagh House stud for £2500/€3500 where he is marketed as a National Hunt sire and should attract lots of support after the success of Twist Magic. (sire rating 3/10)

1994 Balanchine (Storm Bird-Morning Devotion by Affirmed. The Oaks winner easily accounted for subsequent King George winner King’s Theatre to give Frankie Dettori his first success.  As a broodmare the daughter of Storm Bird has proved a disappointment. (sire rating- N/A)

1993 Commander in Chief (Dancing Brave-Slightly Dangerous by Roberto). The undefeated Epsom derby winner had to work hard to defeat the French Derby winner Hernando. His only subsequent run was a slightly disappointing third in the King George.  Like so many Derby winners of the nineties he was sold to Japan. He was the best son of Dancing Brave but not the best son of his outstanding dam Slightly Dangerous who also produced the great miler Warning, along with an Irish Derby runner up in Deploy, Grade 1 winner Yashmak and Derby runner-up Dushyantor. He spent his entire career at Yashun stud in Japan until his relatively early death last year. He sired 15 stakes winners including a champion Japanese two year old in Ein Bride, but it is fair to say that overall his career was disappointing. (sire rating 2.5/10)

1992 St Jovite (Pleasant Colony-Northern Sunset by Northfields). St Jovite put up a stunning performance to defeat Dr Devious and smash the course record in the process. I rank it as perhaps the best middle distance performance I have ever seen and if you want a reminder go to the ‘photos and videos’ sections.  As a son of Pleasant Colony he was one of the rare examples of a winner that isn’t from the Northern Dancer line but his dam was by Northfields so the great Canadian wasn’t too far away.  He followed up with another impressive performance in the King George before a slightly controversial defeat in the Leopardstown Champion stakes. His final run was in unsuitably soft ground in the Arc.  Unfortunately for his career he was retired to stud in North America, where perhaps he wasnt sent the right type of mares or he wasnt appreciated by American breeders.  Nevertheless he proved a major disappointment with Equerry his only performer of note in Europe. He was recently repatriated and is standing as a jumps sire for the Bowes in Greentree stud at an advertised fee of €5000 (sire rating 1/10)

1991- Generous (Caerleon-Doff the Derby by Master Derby). Very impressive at Epsom and then defeated another colt in Suave Dancer at the Curragh. Followed up impressively in the King George. He was retired with great expectations to Bansted Stud. However in 1996 he was sold to Japan for a reported $16million. From his initial UK crops he left behing plenty of Group winners including Catella,Blueprint, Corteous and Oaks runner-up Bahr. However he lacked a real superstar and it is fair to say that his departure wasn’t considered too big a blow. He was subsequently repatriated and spent time at the Plantation Stud but he is now in situ at Scarvagh stud for £4500. Since his return he has sired a German classic winner in Mystic Lips. He is also developing a reputation as a promising broodmare sire, notably with the brothers Golan and Tartan Bearer. His percentage of stakes winners is impressive and I have previously written that I think he is now a good value sire. (sire rating 5.5/10)

1990 Salsabil (Sadler’s Wells-Flame of Tara by Artaius). Became the first filly since Gallinaria in 1900 to triumph. One of the outstanding fillies of the modern era she also won a Prix Marcel Boussac, 1000 Guineas,Oaks and Prix Vermeille. She was also a good broodmare producing stakes winners in the lazily name Bint Salsabil (Bint is Arabic for daughter) and Alabaq and she left behind a decent stallion son in the recently deceased Mr Prospector horse Sahm (sire rating N/A)

1989 Old Vic (Sadler’s Wells-Cockade). From the outstanding first crop of Sadler’s Wells, his Curragh victory was his second Derby as he had earlier won at Chantilly.  Retired with big expectations to Dalhalm stud he was hugely disappointing. He was eventually banished to Japan before returning to the UK and eventually ending up as a jumps sire in Sunnyhill Stud in Kildare. He is now established as an oustanding jumps sire and has already sired a Gold Cup winner in Kicking King and a Grand National winner in Comply or Die. Covering huge books for the past few years he is certain to have a huge influence on  the jumping scene for the next decade. (sire rating flat 1/10), (sire rating jumps 9/10)

1988 Kahyasi (Ile de Bourbon-Kadissya by Blushing Groom). Completed the Epsom/Curragh double when defeating Insan at the Curragh. He was never too popular with Irish breeders at Gilltown and was eventually transferred to the Aga Khans French stud. His best runners were Zainta who won a French Oaks and Enzeli who won an Ascot Gold Cup. However it is as a broodmare sire that he will be best remembered. He is the sire of the phenomenal Hasili who has produced Banks Hill. Intercontinental,Heat Haze, Cacique, Champs Elysses and major sire Dansili. He is also broodmare sire of this years star French filly Zarkava, and Promising Lead who is out of Hasili’s sister Arrive. (sire rating 5/10)

1987 Sir Harry Lewis (Alleged-Sue Babe by Mr Prospector). Sir Harry Lewis improved upon his fourth place at Epsom to defeat Naheez and Entitled at the Curragh. Kept in training at four he failed to add to his record. He was sent to stud in the US which probably wasn’t the best choice for a turf loving son of Alleged. I can’t recall any major winners by him but he did crop up as the broodmare sire of Volponi the 2002 Breeders Cup Classic winner. Like many sons of Alleged he has ended up as a National Hunt sire and now stands at Wood Farm stud for £1500. He is compiling a creditable record with the likes of Mighty Man and Burnt Oak boy (sire rating 2/10)

1986 Shahrastani (Nijinsky- Shademah by Thatch). Shahrastani got almost no credit for his Epsom Derby victory as everyone focused on Greville Starkeys ride on Dancing Brave. At the Curragh Shahrastani was the undoubted star when he put up a superb performance, so good that I feel he would have again beaten Dancing Brave. That was the year that Nijinsky also sired Ferdinand winner of the Kentucky Derby and Shahrastani was sold to stud in the US. He proved to be a really, really, really bad sire. He is now back in the UK and stands at Walton Fields Stud for £1250 (sire rating 0/10)

1985 Law Society (Alleged- Bold Bikini by Boldnesian). Law Society was well beaten by Slip Anchor at Epsom but without that rival to contend with at the Curragh he just held off Theatrical to give Vincent O’Brien his sixth Irish Derby. At the time of his retirement the bloodstock boom was just winding but he was still valued at a reputed £13 million. Despite the best efforts of the Coolmore marketing machine Law Society never did enough to justify a lofty stud fee despite some successes such as Homme De Loi, Right Win, Approach the bench and Anzillero. He now stands in Germany for €6000 (sire rating 3.5/10)

1984 El Gran Senor (Northern Dancer- Sex Appeal by Buckpasser). A champion two year old, brilliant winner of the Guineas, agonisingly defeated by Secreto at Epsom, El Gran Senor was odds on at the Curragh and duly obliged. It proved to be his last run and he was syndicated at $40 million dollars. It was said the defeat at Epsom had knocked $20 million off his valuation. Alas his stud career was hindered by fertility problems and in the course of his career he had less than 400 foals. He sired 55 stakes winners or a whopping 14% stakes winners before he was pensioned in 2000. Amongst his 12 group 1 winners were  Rodrigo de Triano, Lit de Justice, Saratoga Springs, Al Hareb and Toussaud.  Toussaud went on to become a remarkable broodmare and to date is dam of 4 grade 1 winners including Empire Maker and Chester House. Other daughters of El Gran Senor have produced Ramonti and Le Vie dei Colori. (sire rating 9/10)

1983 Shareef Dancer (Northern Dancer-Sweet Alliance by Sir Ivor). Shareef Dancer cost $3.3 million as a yearling and was synicated for $40 million after defeating the French Derby winner Caerleon and Epsom winner Teenoso. He never ran again and it was said at the time that ‘he was too valuable to race’. He retired to Dalhalm Hall for £100,000 fees that quickly became unsustainable given the ending of the bloodstock mania and his own relative lack of success. He did sire some decent runners in Possessive Dancer, Rock Hopper and Glory of Dancer but overall he had to be classified as a disappointment. He also gets some credit as the broodmare sire of Sheikh Mohammeds favourite horse Dubai Millennium, (sire rating 3/10)